9 ways memes can rev up your business marketing
Max Kraynov 11:19 - 23 May 2023
The so-called "creator economy" spans a hugely diverse field with products including dance videos on TikTok, crocheted doilies on Etsy and eye-popping memes on iFunny. It is becoming a formidable force. In 2021 alone, the creator economy raised a record $1.3 billion in funding, underscoring the investment community's vote of confidence in its future. Fast forward to 2022, and memes are clearly no longer just for laughs.
The sector's trailblazers — behemoths like Meta and more specialised entertainment tech players like FunCorp, whose team I was privileged to join in 2021 — were fortunate to be at the forefront of many industry changes, including the explosion of memes into pop culture.
Innovative players across industries are harnessing their power to build communities and inspire strong sentiment around their brand for the benefit of the business. Here are some exciting new ways in which memes can help you achieve your strategic objectives, both as they relate to your customers and your teams:
- Reach a younger audience. Memes don't have a target age, but if you are keen to grab a larger part of the younger demographic, they might be the most effective medium of short-form communication. Approximately 54% of Gen-Zs, 41% of Millennials, and 21% of Gen-Xers look for new memes every day, according to GlobalWebIndex data, while 75% of users aged 13-36 regularly share memes. Considering these stats, using memes to help your corporate messages reach younger customers and potential partners seems like a no-brainer.
- Mount a low-cost marketing campaign. When done right, a meme that takes a limited budget to create can leverage the power of social media to go viral, which means your meme marketing campaign has the potential to go viral as well. Companies across sectors, from grocery delivery players to luxury retailers, are already using this to their advantage, with Gucci's meme-based ad campaign "#TFWGucci" ("That Feeling When Gucci") representing one of the company's highest engaging ad campaign, generating over 21,000 comments and 2 million likes. Apps like Yepp have built-in editing tools that simplify meme creation, even for a novice, helping take the art of meme-making into the mainstream.
- Increase engagement with your social media page. If you enjoy memes, you know the internet gets flooded with clever takes on trending news. You can keep track of popular memes and share the ones that are topical and well-aligned with your corporate image to fuel greater engagement with your audience online. A recent research report highlighted the benefits of this strategy, revealing that while millennials generally eschew commercial and sponsored content, 84% of them are influenced by user-generated content, including memes on company pages.
- Help your brand stand out. Given the short-form nature of meme content and its punchy messaging style and visuals, memes can stay in your memory long after you've clicked on them. There is a way to leverage this by incorporating memes into your branding, ensuring better brand recall than other communication formats. It's a crowded space, and memes help break through the wall of indifference and capture consumer attention. One company nailing this is Barkbox, a company selling dog toy subscription boxes. Barkbox has racked up an impressive 1.8 million followers on its Instagram page by almost exclusively sharing memes. It now surpasses the follower count of the country's largest pet retailer — PetSmart — by a cool 1 million people.
- Build brand loyalty. While traditional marketing may alienate some consumers by being overly aspirational (think beach body ads, reels for the latest diet supplements), memes tend to unite people by reminding them that they are not alone in their thoughts and feelings. In doing so, memes become a powerful tool for community-building, helping foster a sense of belonging among consumers that translates into brand loyalty.
- Align your onboarding with your workplace culture. Starting a new job can be a daunting experience, and deciphering the work culture at your new office can be difficult. If you pride yourself on fostering a unique working environment far from the stuffy, hierarchical offices of the past, then using memes to welcome new employees might be a good way to highlight this. Memes, when chosen appropriately, can help your new team members understand the new workplace better and easily fit into it.
- Encourage team building. Memes have the power to inspire strong feelings, which laugh-out-loud content tends to do. While memes are most often used for external marketing in business, corporate culture gurus are now also looking to memes, seeking more ways to unite and inspire employees. Creating work channels for sharing your favourite memes or holding corporate competitions for the best meme created by employees on a particular topic of relevance can be an unusual and fun way to encourage team building. And they can certainly help spice up a presentation when used effectively.
- Spice up internal communications. Deploying a mix of topical memes in internal communications can help you drive your key points home and even inject some fun into the driest of topics. It is great to hear the crowd break down into genuine laughter during an internal new product presentation or a weekly team meeting, and memes are a quick and simple way to achieve this, inserting a bit of fun into the everyday. Thinking beyond internal comms, corporate and investor presentations might benefit from memes in the same way as well.
- Help break up monotonous tasks. Not every job can always be exciting, as monotonous tasks are often a necessary part of a job and cannot be avoided. At the same time, feeling engaged is a key component of employee satisfaction and retention. Consider making small changes for big impacts, like inserting a "meme of the day" into your team's workflow or even ask the team to suggest their own suitable memes for a bit of fun and to encourage social interactions to help break up the monotony of some tedious tasks that cannot be cut from the work routine.
Max Kraynov, Group CEO, FunCorp